AI and AR Help Starbucks, Natuzzi Tackle Projects
For example, Starbucks has built its own AI technology, called Deep Brew, which is enabling it to automate its inventory process, better allocate staffing and deepen customer relationships. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told analysts last year that the technology is vital to its efforts to build deeper relationships with customers, especially those in its loyalty program, for whom “spend increases meaningfully.”
“Deep Brew will increasingly power our personalization engine, optimize store labor allocations and drive inventory management in our stores,” Johnson said in November.
Another example, though less well known: Natuzzi, a high-end Italian furniture company with galleries and stores around the world, is using Microsoft HoloLens, a wearable augmented reality device, to let customers experience the company’s furniture inside their homes. The technology is currently in use at the company’s London store.
“We let them walk their home virtually showing our collection without boundaries,” explained Pasquale Junior Natuzzi, the company’s creative director and stylist, in a Microsoft news post. “The mixed reality system gives us an incredible opportunity to lower the stock and the inventory in our stores and increase the sales per square foot.”
Employee Tech Delivers Big Benefits for Retailers
Nadella said retailers must also focus on putting transformational technology in the hands of store employees, who have the most direct impact on customer satisfaction. He cited home furnishings giant Ikea, which developed an app that simplifies employee scheduling and makes it more responsive to real-time needs.
“Giving data to employees is probably the single most ROI-intensive thing you can do,” he said. “It increases your conversion rate by 15 percent and your satisfaction rate by 10 percent.”
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